I'm dedicating this week's blog to Dianne Price and the dream she left behind. Dianne passed into the arms of our Heavenly Father a couple of weeks ago, but her dream and her memory live on in the work she leaves behind.
Hitler’s bloody quest to conquer Europe seems far away when Rob and Maggie are sent to an infirmary on Innisbraw to begin his rehabilitation from disabling injuries. Yet they find themselves caught in a battle between Rob’s past, God’s plan, and the evil some islanders harbor in their souls. Which will triumph?
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and in all other e-formats at SmashwordsPrint book releases soon!
This is what her publisher had to say:
Aug. 25th, 2013. To those of you who didn't have the pleasure of meeting Dianne, she was a wee woman in a bomber jacket with a Scottish brogue who wrote a beautiful six-book romance set in the 1940s featuring an RAF nurse and an American bomber pilot. I met Dianne four or five years ago when she sat down at a writers conference(OCW) for an editing appointment with me. Behind a few pages of heavy backstory, a gorgeous love story waited. She soon hired me as her editor and I went through thousands of pages of her novels. Her words brought us closer and closer together until we became loving friends. She shared with me about a year ago that she had a slow moving liver cancer that was terminal, but the average life span after diagnosis was 15 years, so we had plenty of time since she'd been diagnosed around the time we'd met.
Two weeks ago, Dianne shared that she didn't think she had much time remaining on this earth and she was desperately finishing editing Book Six. Tonight, just one week before Book One, Broken Wings, releases, and mere hours after I finished the last edits on Book One, she went on to be with the Lord.
How blessed we all are that her legacy lives on in these stories. Please read Broken Wings, fall in love with Rob and Maggie and the isle of Innisbraw, and pass the word. (Book Two, Wing and a Prayer, releases in October!)
Please enjoy an excerpt from BROKEN WINGS, book 1 in the THISTLE SERIES.
Isle of Innisbraw, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Stay! Don’t go! Maggie McGrath struggled to ignore the words screaming in her mind. She tucked a tissue-wrapped sprig of heather into a fold in her battered traveling bag. Too dry for the fragrance to linger, but she’d put it in a drawer. When the longing for home shredded her heart, she’d hold the fragile, purple buds close to her nose and imagine the sweet scent perfuming the air every summer.
Her fingers trembled as she fastened the bag and looked around the wee bedroom she’d shared with her younger brother, Calum, for over half of her life. His box-bed unmade, sheets and bed plaid in a muddle. A ragged sweater and pair of soiled trousers crumpled on the floor. Tears burned her eyes. Typical of a nine-year-old lad who lived for the day he would be old enough to crew a fishing trawler. Och, she would miss him so terribly.
Heedless to those words still torturing her mind, she pulled the sides of her waist-length black hair into a celluloid clip at the top of her head and dragged her bag into the cramped room that served as the cottage’s living quarters and kitchen.
Her father stood at the small, deep-set window above the sink, his face toward the morning sun colouring the cloudless blue sky with a soft blush of orange.
The bump of her bag over the rough stone-flagged floor seemed to rouse him. He placed his cup of tea on the scarred table and walked toward her, arms outstretched. “Ready are you to be off then, lass?” He enveloped her in a hug, the tweed of his jacket scratchy, yet so familiar, against her cheek.
The soft cadence of the Scots he spoke threatened to crack her resolve. She’d hear only English in Edinburgh. I cannot stay. I have to go. A sigh. “Aye, as ready as can be.”
“I know ’tis hard.” He stepped back and wiped a tear from her cheek. “But in a bit over twa months I’ll join you in Edinburgh.”
She wanted him to beg her to stay, to refuse her opportunity to study at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s Nursing School. But why would he? It was her dream, the culmination of everything she had studied for, including four years at a boarding academy on the Isle of Harris where she had learned to speak English as fluently as her father. Hard years, those. Painful raps on her knuckles when she spoke Scots, followed by humiliating mockery from the English-speaking students.
His warm hand rested on her shoulder. “On you come, lass. I’ve a pottle of strong tea waiting.” He poured tea into her mother’s treasured china cup. The burden in her heart lifted a wee bit. It seemed only fitting she embark on her journey into womanhood after drinking from her mother’s legacy. If Elizabeth McGrath had survived the birth of her laddie, Calum, she would have been proud of her daughter.
Maggie added heather honey and milk to her tea and stood in front of the glowing peat fire, shivering from an inner chill no flame could warm. It was already gone 0530. In less than half an hour she would be saying “guid-by” to all she held dear. And how would Calum fare? “Are you certain Calum will be all right staying with Morag and Alec when you leave?”
“Och, the lad’s spent most of every winter with the MacDonalds since you started academy.” Her father settled into his rocker with a grunt of satisfaction. “And he’ll have a bed to himself now, what with their Graham going off to school.”
A few strands of grey invaded his dark brown hair and short beard. When had that happened? It seemed only yesterday he’d rocked her in his lap and sung silly ditties in Scots or the Gaelic to soothe away her tears from a skinned knee or bad dream. That had all changed ever-so-gradually over the years. There was no question he loved her and Calum. But as head of Orthopaedics at the Royal Infirmary, he now spent most of his time in Edinburgh. Only one short three-month visit beginning in August and a weekly radio call the rest of the year to fill the aching void in their hearts.
Her heart cried out to recapture those carefree childhood days when her life revolved around family and friends, this wee stone cottage with its thatched roof, and her beloved green island. But she would be eighteen in a few months—old enough to fall in love, marry, and have her own bairns to rock.
And old enough to voice the one subject she’d never dared broach aloud. “Are you never coming home to open your infirmary permanently?” Maggie choked out the words. “I know what you do is important, but Calum needs a faither, no’ just fishermen who have their own lads.”
He stroked his beard, avoiding her gaze. Was he considering an excuse—perhaps something familiar, that he told himself every day to assuage his guilt?
She shouldn’t allow such words to ruin her last moments at home. Leaving her untasted tea on the table, she dashed to the door, pulling it open with a jerk. Even the pervasive scent of the heather covering the towering slopes of Ben Innis and tumbling in purple splashes down braes and over hillocks brought no solace as she raced to the low, dry-stone wall separating their croft from the path which ran across the high, flat top of Innis Fell.
Tears pooled in her eyes, blurring the harbour below and the Minch stretching to the horizon, its waves capped with white horses whipped to a gallop by the brisk morning breeze. What if the rumors of an imminent war with Germany came true? Everyone on the island was talking about Hitler’s invasion of Austria. Would he be satisfied to stop there or would he want more and more until all of Europe erupted into flames the way it had in the last Great War? Calum was too young to serve, but what about Graham MacDonald, Mark Ferguson, and the other lads on Innisbraw? Their ruddy-cheeked, innocent faces swam before her eyes. How many would die? How many would never come home to take up sheep or cow crofting or fishing with their fathers?
Her father came behind her and his strong arms pulled her against his chest. He rocked her back and forth for a moment before speaking. “I canna leave my work yet, Maggie. I’m on the brink of perfecting a new technique for repairing compound fractures. Mebbe when you’ve finished your training we’ll come back together. I’ll need a nurse at our infirmary, and in the meantime, Elspeth and Hugh have promised to write often.” He squeezed her shoulders before his steps faded away on the scudding breeze.
Maggie bit her lip to keep from weeping aloud. She couldn’t bear to hear the names of her two dearest friends when she wouldn’t see them for at least two years. Elspeth NicAllister had been her surrogate mother since Calum’s birth. Hugh MacEwan, the island’s minister and other anchor in her life, had never been too busy to offer words of encouragement or scriptures to give her guidance.
Och, Heavenly Faither, please help me be strong, for You planted the need to help others in my heart. Help me remember the honey-sweet scent of the heather, the sound of the sea sooking on the shore, the tumbling burns and shaded glens, even the plomping rain and skailing winds of winter. But most of all, give me the faith that I’ll come home to Innisbraw someday.
Dianne Price fell in love with writing at the age of five. Her father was a barnstorming pilot with a bi-plane and she was bitten early by the dreaded “flying bug.” She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and met and married the man God had prepared for her—an aeronautical engineer. After their five children were in school, she burned the midnight oil and wrote three novels, all published by Zebra Press. When her husband died only three years after he retired, she visited the Outer Hebrides Isles of Scotland, where her husband’s clan (MacDonalds) and her own clan (Galbraiths) originated. Many yearly trips, gallons of tea, too little sleep, and a burst of insight birthed her Thistle Series.
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